From 17th place to 3rd place. In a single season. Just savor the smell of that for a moment. It’s such a sweet and satisfying smell. Very different from the smell of the turd that Manchester City is laying at the moment. I realize I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit and that there are still 6 games left to play, but, DAMN, if Arsene Wenger doesn’t deserve manager of the year – even if Arsenal finish 5th or 6th.
And you know what’s creeping into every Arsenal fans’ mind at the moment. Is it possible to overtake City? Is it possible to finish second? We’re ten points off the pace with 18 points up for grabs. It’s mathematically possible. I think it’s ok for the fans to think about that possibility while the players stay focused on the task at hand – securing 18 points. I can dream, can’t I?
Arsenal played such a thoroughly dominating game against City, it was good to see a result when it could have been one of those “coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’” games. But it wasn’t. Arteta stole the ball, struck the ball cleanly from distance and that was it. The Arsenal midfield completely outplayed the City midfield (very different from the performance at Loftus Road).
It really felt like Arsenal were like ferocious beasts on the Serengeti, constantly ready to pounce – and Manchester City was the car full of tourists that gets pounced upon by one of those said beasts. Enter my home, my territory, see what happens.
Szczesny (Lion) – Didn’t really have much to do today. Kind of lazily observed the game from his lofty perch, but went from 0 to defending his turf when it looked like Balotelli might be free for a 1×1 early in the game. For me, that was key play of the game and might have turned momentum in City’s favor.
Sagna (Giraffe) – I say Giraffe in a good way because Sagna simply made himself taller than every City player that was around him. He won every freaking head ball that was even remotely close to him. He was absolutely dominant today and munched on the leaves of the Man City tree (I don’t really know what that means, just got lost in the giraffe analogy).
Vermaelen (Wildebeest) – Vermaelen was everywhere today, defending van Persie’s header off the City goal line, playing as an attacking midfielder, running anywhere and everywhere. It almost felt like he was trying to overcompensate for a couple of unlucky moments against QPR, but I wouldn’t want any other CB on my team.
Koscielny (Gazelle) – Agile and quick, and very assured in his defensive position. Like Vermaelen, wouldn’t’ want any other CB on my team. That very neat and composed interception against Aguero (I think it was) – when he stepped between ball and player was absolutely superb. Shame that he will be suspended for two games, but he’ll come back rested for episode Chelsea.
Gibbs (Crane) – At one point, the FSC announcer said that “Gibbs wasn’t a very good defender.” What!? What sort of horseshit commentary is that? Gibbs has played exceptionally well the last few games. I didn’t think he played exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly today – but he was solid enough, and blended into the Serengeti as one of the lesser-noticed denizens that hangs on the periphery but helps keep the ecosystem in balance.
Song (Honey Badger) – Honey Badgers are complete bad asses. Made his freaking presence known. Practically had his leg snapped in two by the former City player know as Balotelli, but dominated in the midfield, broke up play after play and made some great passes on the offensive side of the ball. Song is easily one of the most complete players in the PL this season. I’m torn between Song, Rosicky or Arteta for MotM – so it might just be the entire midfield (although I’m leaning toward Arteta).
Rosicky (Meerkat) – It’s very exciting to see Rosicky getting back to the Rosicky we knew and loved prior to the devastating leg break. He has energy and guile, quickness and determination, and plays with a real sense of purpose. You can see that he really understands the game and has a vision and technical ability to match. I’m hoping this is what happens to Ramsey as well the next couple of seasons.
Arteta (Tiger) – Arteta was fierce and fearless today, putting himself in the right position on nearly every play. He’s not the fastest on the field or even the quickest, but he is one of the smartest and can pounce when you least expect it and impose himself on the game. I think for me he was the MotM today. And, yes, I know the tiger is not part of the Serengeti, but is part of the wild kingdom.
Walcott (Cheetah) – Another one of the lesser inhabitants of the Serengeti with speed to burn, Walcott helped keep the City defense off balance to some degree, but not his best game (but far from his worst). Was an important part of the team, but didn’t dominate nor completely disappear. Unlucky not to score.
Benayoun (Mosquito) – Man, he was a pesky little thing today. Started out on the left, drifted to the right, found his way to the center. It almost felt like Arsene played a 4-4-2, giving Benayoun a free-roaming role up front. He had a good, solid game today – considering he hasn’t played in quite some time. It would have been interesting to see The Ox play in that same role, but no complaints about Benayoun’s effort today.
Van Persie (Eagle) — Majestic and ever present, even if you don’t always know they are watching. Eagles can cover a tremendous amount of territory, can remain uninvolved for extended periods but just as suddenly strike for the kill. Robin had two killer moments that didn’t fall his way today, and he was all over the field (in a good way), dropping into the midfield to provide support, putting himself in the best possibly position to strike and generally buzzing about the place.
SPECIAL MENTION: Ramsey (Warthog) – This just isn’t Ramsey’s season. I know the call is to sell him, loan him out or bench him, but I’m actually feeling a bit sorry for Ramsey. He’s 21, coming back from a severe leg break, and obviously hasn’t fully recovered. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, so we know he has the technical ability and vision. I think if anyone can get him back on track it’s Wenger – I’m hoping in 2-years time we’re having the same conversation about Ramsey that we are about Song and Rosicky (remember when fans were calling for them to be sold as well?)